15 Gray Whales, One Harbor Seal and “Belt of Venus” after Sunset

15 North Bound 0 South Bound 7.5 hrs

Flat calm ocean with sparkles in sun line, wind 5-7mph, the horizon so sharp and clear the letters can be read on the cargo ships miles away. One Harbor Seal in surf today with a white identification patch, a site not seen everyday. The typical 12-15 coastal bottle nose dolphins went south in the surf and back north again a few hours later. A dozen or more sea lions were hauled out in Sea Lion Cove.

Yesterdays strong winds and rough surf last night caused massive beach erosion. A six+ ft. scarp remains along the entire length of the Point Dume State Beach. Pirates Cove has a 4-5 ft scarp with 2/3rds of the berm gone. how many cubic ft of sand was lost overnight?!(?!) Earlier in the day a reliable eyewitness counted 6 whales in 3 sightings**** see note below about this data.

A pod of four whales were joined by a single whale as it went through the transect. All the whales passed through quickly, one with an interesting identification mark, two fluked at every sounding and the other three did not. Popcorn or trumpeting blows could be seen as they got further north which were lit up in the late afternoon sun.

The massive erosion from the strong currents, high surf and gale wind yesterday left a six plus foot scarp along the entire Point Dume State Beach and up through Zuma Beach. In the photos below you can see a man playing guitar to passing by beach walkers near the low tide line 6.5 ft below him in this section, It was difficult getting down to the water today and harder for many to scramble up the unstable sand wall.

The sun set tonight exposing an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as “the green flash”. This happens for 1-3 seconds just as the sun dips below the horizon as the last glimmer of the sun’s rays scatter and under the right conditions you see the green rays and even rarer is a blue flash. Because it happens so fast it is difficult to photograph and or predict exactly when it will happen. Tonight it was a quick split second flash. However, another atmospheric optical phenomenon which also happens when the sun dips below the horizon known as the “Belt of Venus” happened tonight. After the sun set the horizon opposite of the where it set set lit up beautiful shades of pink and orange just above the horizon 10-20 degrees, as the sun hits 18 degrees below the horizon casting a blue area from the earth shadow directly at the horizon. The “Belt of Venus” is visible for about 15 minutes after sunset or before sunrise in the west on clear days with minimal wind or humidity requiring an unobstructed view of the horizon.

Extra News: Today at 4:40pm a Rare Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranded At Surfrider Beach

A Rare Pygmy Sperm Whale was found stranded at Surfrider Beach late this afternoon and LA County Lifeguards and firefighters were called to the scene along with the California Wildlife Center, Marine Mammal Rescue Team. Unfortunately it was reported in local newspapers, after evaluation and working with NOAA, the whale had suffered many injuries along the rocky low tide shore and in the end was euthanized to prevent further suffering. Thank you to LA County Lifeguard Captain Patrick O’Neil seen in the photos, who provided help on scene and all the agencies coming together to provide aide for this rarely seen, injured pygmy sperm whale.

Photos Courtesy of Twitter @LAColifeguards

Pygmy Sperm Whales are toothed whales typically off shore and rarely seen. Pygmy Sperm whales feed on octopus and squid, fish and shrimp. At maturity they reach 9-11ft long, weighing 700-1000 lbs and have a unique defense mechanism to release up to three gallons of red brown ink from an intestinal sac creating a dark cloud to escape dangers in the ocean.

****To note: Thank you for all the sightings shared with me!!! This extra antidotal data collected from a variety of reliable sources help track the seasonal changes and daily pace of the gray whale migration which is of great value. The daily tallies posted are empirical and shared with the ACS-LA at the end of the season and during the migration with unusual sightings. Antidotal data will be posted at the end of the season once the empirical data is complete ( I am working through a huge back log). Please keep sharing! Your sightings and any details matter especially during the cow/calf portion of the migration with ongoing Unusual Mortality Event! Thank you caring about the Gray Whales and Please keep sharing!

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Photos courtesy of twitter @LACoLifeguard

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